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Candidates campaign virtually in Morro Bay

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Unlike past election years, candidates vying for two open seats on the Morro Bay City Council will be sharing their platforms with the community via their campaign websites.

Two City Council seats are up for grabs this year, with incumbent Robert Davis seeking reelection and Councilmember Marlys McPherson opting to not run for another term.

Davis told New Times he wants to remind the community that he's been a part of many accomplishments that have been a team effort.

"That's how I work. I like to get people together, put the issues on the table, see where we have difference, figure out our common objectives, and work on how to get there," he said.

Davis is proud of the progress the city has made during the past four years, including finalizing the water-reclamation facility, updating the city's general plan/local coastal program, annexing Dog Beach to keep it pet-friendly, developing a comprehensive economic development program with the Chamber of Commerce and a strategic planning process for the city, working with Castle Winds for renewable energy, and making steps toward a sustainable harbor plan.

If reelected, Davis said he has a long list of projects he will focus on, including completing the water-reclamation facility, improving the harbor and waterfront areas, developing new revenue to fund city services, facilitating the construction of the Central Coast Aquarium, and helping existing businesses thrive.

Long-time resident and former City Councilmember Betty Winholtz said she's ready to bring the residents' perspective to the council, which doesn't seem to always exist on the city's governing bodies.

"I think it's important that it be vocalized and heard," Winholtz said.

She wants to focus on the city's finances, short-term vacation rentals, and the "ever increasing cost" of the water-reclamation facility.

Winholtz said the taxpayers will already have to pay $200 a month in utilities because of the water facility, but there can't be any more increases to the project's costs.

"Thinking that the pockets of the ratepayers is unlimited, particularly in the time of COVID-19 when our people have still never gone back to work. That's just unconscionable in my opinion," she said.

Council candidate Richard Sadowski has also had a past position with the city as a planning commissioner. Sadowski worked with Vanderberg Air Force Base as a mechanical engineer and was on the Water Reclamation Facility Citizen Advisory Group.

Having seen all the changes that the city has gone through with the project, Sadowski said if elected he would put a brief pause on the project and hold the city responsible to "ensure the citizens get a good valued project for their taxpayer dollars."

"Our economic engine in Morro Bay is an organic one because of our estuary. That's our draw so we have to make sure we keep our areas clean, especially with the current pandemic that has caused a lot of trash in these areas," Sadowski said.

Newcomer Lauren Barton is a two-year resident of Morro Bay but has experience in city positions as a staff member for the city of Visalia, a city council member, and a Visalia Unified School District board member.

Barton said she's up to speed on the water- reclamation facility and ready to contribute to the finished and much needed project.

Her focus is also on economic development, including working on improving the circulation at the intersection between highways 1 and 41, improving signage to direct tourists to easily find "hot spot" attractions—downtown, the beach, and the Embarcadero—and work to capture additional potential visitor revenue by attracting businesses that aren't well-represented in the local mix. Δ

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